Bookman: Trump continues to threaten violence against those who defend the rule of law
Like his pal Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump is a thug willing to use violence to achieve what he cannot achieve through legitimate means. He has shown a willingness to do so in the past, and because he himself has not paid any price, he is threatening to do so in the future.
We know all this, because we have witnessed it. In those anxious days and weeks leading up to January 6, 2021, it had become clear to many of us that Trump saw mob violence as a way to try to hold on to the White House, in defiance of the eviction notice served on him. by the American people. But at the time, some were unwilling to hear what their own ears were telling them, what Trump’s own words were communicating.
“He’s not that crazy,” some people said. “He wouldn’t dare.”
But he was, and he did.
He directed his angry supporters to the Capitol, where our elected officials were performing the constitutional rites of a peaceful transfer of power. He watched the resulting violence on television, violence that he himself inspired, and by all accounts he enjoyed it. Throughout the hours-long riot, with members of Congress fleeing for their lives, he refused pleas for intercession from his family members, top aides and advisers, members of his own party who were also besieged by the angry mob.
“Well, Kevin, I guess those people are more upset about the election than you are,” he told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had called Trump to the White House to beg him. to call his dogs.
And afterwards, when the uprising was finally put down, he told the rioters to always remember that day, and that he loved them.
To date, the only regrets Trump has expressed about the events of January 6 are that they failed to keep him in office. At a rally last weekend in Texas, he reiterated that regret, complaining that Vice President Mike Pence “had the right to change the outcome.”
“Unfortunately, he did not exercise that power,” Trump cried. “He could have overturned the election!”
Read that statement carefully, because Trump couldn’t have been clearer about his intentions: Pence “had the right to change the outcome…he could have voided the election!” Believe what your eyes and ears tell you, what Trump himself tells you. He was trying everything in his power, and a lot of things not in his power, to end American democracy.
As a result of his actions, Trump faces a number of investigations — in Congress, civil and criminal. And just as he did before January 6, he threatens to use violence to try to intimidate those who defend the rule of law, who dare to defend the Constitution.
“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we’re going to have the biggest protests we’ve ever had in Washington, DC, in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt. Trump told the crowd in Texas.
Make no mistake: In Trump’s mind and in the minds of his supporters, “anything wrong or illegal” means anything that attempts to hold Trump accountable. And don’t listen to those familiar refrains of “He wouldn’t dare or “He’s not that crazy.” Because once again, yes he would and yes he is. He now essentially says what he told the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers when asked to condemn political violence: “Rest and stay away.”
I have long been suspicious of the investigation launched by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into Trump’s efforts to nullify the election results here in Georgia. My thought has been that any prosecution of a president on such serious charges should take place at the federal level, or if necessary at the state level. I say this because we don’t need a spotlight-starved local district attorney in Oklahoma or Wyoming filing absurd criminal charges against a future liberal president, citing Willis as precedent.
However, I changed my mind. If that Oklahoma or Wyoming prosecutor has even half the evidence against a future president that Willis can already muster against Trump, then that president, regardless of party, probably deserves prosecution. We cannot allow our country, our democracy, our rule of law and our freedom to be threatened without consequences or legal remedies. Any government that is legitimized by a vote of the people has not only the right but the absolute obligation to defend itself against those who would attempt to overthrow it, and Trump, by his own repeated admission, intends to overthrow it.
Veteran journalist Jay Bookman is a commentator for the Georgia Recorder who first published this essay.